Report Writing A report is an orderly and objective communication of factual information that serves some business purpose
Report Objectives • To present the facts in an unbiased manner • To seek the truth, regardless of the consequences • To use factual information, interpretations, conclusions, and recommendations must be supported by fact or clearly labeled as opinion
Fact vs. Opinion • Factual information is documented and verifiable • Example: The room is very warm. The temperature on the wall indicates that it is 85 degrees. • Opinion is a perception, an interpretation • Example: Everyone in the room has removed their jackets; therefore, it must be very warm.
Business Purpose • To be classified as a business report, a report must serve some business purpose. This purpose may be to solve a problem. • A business report must be specific enough to be meaningful, broad enough to take in variations found in reports.
Functions of Business Reports • Informational- a presentation of facts on a subject • Examination- a presentation of facts with analyses and interpretations • Analytical- a presentation of facts with analyses, interpretations, conclusions, and perhaps recommendations.
Business Reports • Formal vs. informal • Memorandum, Letter, short, long • Special (one time only), periodic (regular intervals), progress, justification, recommendation.
Word Selection • Passive voice • Avoid personal pronouns • Use future tense for the proposal, past tense for the completed report • Avoid biasness • Use impersonal tone
Two Types of Needs for Reports • Businesses need reports for two reasons: • To solve a problem • To function properly • Reports are assigned in three ways: • by a direct request • through standard operating procedures • through your initiative
Determining the Problem • Work on a report begins with a study of the problem. • The problem may be vaguely defined or complex. • Problem clarification is developed by having a thorough knowledge of the subject by gathering information through research (primary and secondary).
Problem Statements • Your problem statement may be: • An infinitive phrase • Example: To determine whether Techron, diesel, or other oil additives are the best solutions for long-term car engine performance. • A question • Example: Is it necessary to add some type of oil additive to a car to prolong the life of a car engine? • A declarative statement • Techron, diesel, and other oil additives will be compared in order to determine which one is best for long-term engine performance.
Determining the Factors • Factors may be subtopics of the main problem, hypothesis, or bases for comparison • Factors are the topical breakdowns (variables) of the problem. • Example: Oil additives: Prolong, STP, Brand 3000
Hypotheses (Problem requiring a solution) • Hypotheses are possible explanations or solutions for analyzing a problem. • Example: Does it make a difference which oil additive consumers use to ensure a car’s optimum engine performance? (problem statement) • Increased activity in the oil additive industry has caused higher quality products such as Techron to lead the market. (hypothesis)
Other Sample Problem Statements and Factors • Problem statement: Why have sales declined at the Milltown store? • Factors: competition, economy, store management, merchandising • Hypotheses: • Increased activity of conpetition in the store’s trade area has caused a loss in sales. • Declining economic activity in the trade area explains the loss in sales.. • The loss in sales is a result of weak administration and merchandising practices.
Another Sample Problem Statement • To determine whether Y Company’s new factory should be located in City A, City B, or City C • Factors: Three city characteristics, availability of skilled labor, availability of raw materials, transportation facilities, location desirability, community attitude, tax structure, energy supply.
Now Let’s look at each Problem Statement • In the question format, it is important to develop hypotheses in order to test each one objectively. The purpose is to prove or disprove each hypothesis. Use logic and appropriate statistical techniques.(quantitative) • In the Infinitive format, the purpose is to gather data for each factor and compare it to the other factors. On the basis of these comparisons, you would develop your decisions. (qualitative)
Research • Secondary (all works in in published format--books, magazines, almanacs, govt documents, journals.) • Primary (experiments, observations, surveys, questionnaires, interviews, company records)
Organizational Pattern • Direct-(deductive order)--summaries, conclusions, or recommendations are presented first. • Indirect (inductive order)--moving from the known to the unknown.
Proposal • Purpose of the report • Two key elements--to explore/analyze and to determine • Problem statement • Justification statement • Scope (factors, limitations, delimitations) • Methods and Techniques of research • Audience
Acceptable Proposal arrangements • The Problem: • Statement of the problem; its scope and limitations • factors (working hypotheses) or areas of information to be investigated. Background material. • Limitations to the investigation (time, money, qualified people, etc.)
Proposal • Methodology: • Complete yet concise description of how the research is to be conducted • If secondary research is to be employed, would include description of basic sources to be consulted. May include a tentative bibliography. • If primary research is to be used, would consist of a step-by-step how-to-do-it description of the procedures. (sample design, selecting/training workers, conduct of investigation, pilot study, controls and checks, time schedule)
Proposal Beginning • An appropriate beginning consists of a statement of the purpose and the problem. • A clear background is helpful to understanding the problem • A need (justification) presents the facts and background and its relevance. • Description--factors, what is proposed. • Particulars--scope, limitations. • Benefits of proposal--reader benefits, audience. • Concluding comments--what is next step? A summary review of highlights.
Report Parts • Prefatory Parts • Body • Supplementary Parts
Prefatory Parts • Title page (title, prepared by, prepared for, date of completion) • Title Fly • Letter of authorization • Letter of Transmittal, Foreword, Preface • Table of Contents, List of Illustrations • Executive Summary
Report Body • Introduction (proposal components + background/history+ definitions) • Literature Review/Findings (research) • Terminal Section (Summary of findings, conclusions, recommendations)
Supplementary Part • Appendix • Bibliography